Sydney has an abundance of coastal walks, entry level walking trails along with bush hikes and larger expeditions. From Sydney harbour to the blue mountains you will find amazing panoramas and sweeping views of the city.
Where can I walk around Sydney?
Blessed with great weather, a sub-tropical climate and an average of more than 230 sunny or partly sunny days a year, Sydney is perfect for those who love to walk.
With a coastline that literally stretches for hundreds of kilometres, and national parks to the north, south and west, there’s more than ample opportunity for all types of walkers to find their favourite Sydney walk.
Types of walks
From 30 minute beach strolls to multi-day bushwalks, and urban trails to harbourside cliff paths, there are almost as many different types of walks in Sydney as there are walkers.
For those planning only a short visit to Sydney, a harbour walk such as Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay, Woolloomooloo to Circular Quay or the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk are a must.
As Sydney is known internationally as the harbour city, these walks are some of the best waterside walks that you’ll find anywhere in the world. Well signposted and relatively short, these routes are well maintained with solid paths and ample rest stops.
Looking to escape into the bush? Lane Cove National Park is only 20 minutes from the heart of the CBD, while Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park on Sydney’s northern edge offers some of Sydney’s finest walking routes. If you have more time on your hands, the Royal National Park to Sydney’s south and Blue Mountains National Park to the west have spectacular multi-day walks to test even the most experienced walkers.
Sydney walking safety
Regardless of the time of year, it is important to understand that even in Sydney weather conditions can change quickly. A southerly storm in summer could see heavy rain and a quick drop in temperature, while winter can get very cold once the sun goes down. In other words, it’s important to know the forecast, and plan accordingly.
Whatever the distance you’re planning on walking or the terrain, it is important to have sunscreen, a hat (preferably with a full brim), ample water, and sturdy shoes. If it’s longer than an hour or two, then a small day pack with some food (like muesli bars, sandwiches or fruit) is also advisable.
Should you be looking to walk overnight or for a few days, then a tent, season-appropriate sleeping bag, wet weather gear and enough food for each meal is necessary. Matches, a torch, camping stove, maps, compass, space blanket and a first aid kit are also essential if you are planning on hiking anywhere outside Sydney’s greater urban area.
Be aware that any fires or stoves are not to be lit or used during total fire bans. Be sure to contact the local police station, fire station or National Parks and Wildlife Service office or website for the latest information on fire bans before you set out on your hike. You can also download the National Parks and Wildlife Service app or visit the Rural Fire Service online to get the latest information before you set out.
In the more remote areas such as the Blue Mountains, an emergency personal locator beacon (PLB) is highly recommended. You can hire them for free from either the NPWS or many local police stations. To be used as a last resort, these beacons help locate over a hundred lost hikers every year.
In late spring and summer, it can be quite common to see snakes sunning themselves on pathways and rocks after a long winter hibernation, especially on walks that are less popular. Although they may look scary, snakes as a rule won’t engage walkers unless they feel immediately threatened or cornered.
If you see a snake, back away slowly to a safe distance and give the snake a chance to escape. Note the direction it leaves in, and then wait a minute or two to ensure that it is far enough away before proceeding. If the snake hasn’t moved, then don’t engage it with sticks or rocks - not only are snakes a protected species, but they play an important part in our ecosystem.
If the snake remains, then turn back the way you came. Be mindful that snakes are very well camouflaged and may be obscured by shadows, so tread carefully and always watch where you are going, especially if you are stepping over rocks, branches or tree roots.
On a lighter note, if undertaking a harbour or coastal walk in summer, be sure to take your swimmers and money for ice cream or coffee. Many of the city’s best harbour walks include stops at hidden beaches and waterfront cafes, so don’t forget to make the most of it!
Sydney walks accessible by public transport
Sydney is well served by public transport, especially around the harbour and beaches. With a combination of trains, buses and ferries, you should be able to get where you want to go without much hassle. Here’s a few different options.
Ferries will take you to Bundeena at the start of the 26 km Coast Track in the Royal National Park, Manly for the 10 km Manly to Spit Bridge walk, Watsons Bay for the 2.8 km South Head Heritage Trail or The Basin in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park in Sydney’s north.
You can start or finish a number of walks by train, including the Coast Track (Otford station), Katoomba’s 34 km Mt Solitary Walk, the 3.7 km Berowra to Mount Ku-Ring-Gai walk, or the 14 km Lane Cove National Park walk from Chatswood to Thornleigh.
Buses will take you to both ends of the 6 km Bondi to Coogee walk, the 1 km Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk in Palm Beach or the 4 km Woolloomooloo to Circular Quay walk.
Before you set out on your walk, be sure to check Transport NSW: https://transportnsw.info/ or up to date timetable and route information.
Sydney photography walks
Known for its natural beauty, Sydney is a photographer’s dream. Whether it’s the perfect sunset shot over the Harbour Bridge and Opera House or breaking dawn over Bondi that you’re after, there’s plenty to point your camera at.
Depending on your time limits and interest, we suggest the 6 km Bondi to Coogee walk or 10 km Spit to Manly walk for harbour and ocean photography, the 4 km Woolloomooloo to Circular Quay walk or the 4 km Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk for inner harbour and Bridge/Opera House photos, and Katoomba’s 0.8 km Three Sisters walk or the 10 km Lane Cove Circuit for bush photography.
For impressive coastal photography, the Royal National Park’s 26 km Coast Track or 1 km Barrenjoey Lighthouse walks will provide some spectacular backdrops.
Sydney national park walks
With 22 national parks or reserves with over 1 million hectares of protected land within 150km of the Sydney CBD, you don’t have to go very far to find a walk that suits your abilities best.
Whether it’s for an hour, a day or a week, Sydney’s national parks offer spectacular views, fauna, flora and terrain unlike anywhere else on earth. For a coastal experience, some of the finest walks can be found in the Royal National Park or Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.
Lane Cove National Park has accessible and relatively simple walks, while the Blue Mountains National Park to the west has literally dozens of walks for all ages and experience levels.
For further information, including the latest track conditions and walk specific details, please visit the National Parks official site - https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
Did you know you can earn Qantas Points doing all kinds of activities. Simply download the app, keep your phone or wearable device on you - and get moving.
You can also earn points with your Qantas Health Insurance.
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